Considering adopting a new lifestyle can be overwhelming especially when that lifestyle change comes with eliminating foods that were once staples. If you are looking to transition to a plant-based diet you are probably wanting to understand more about what is a plant-based diet and how do you start. In this post, I hope to clear up some confusion and explain the basics of a plant-based diet and what it entails.
So when people first decide to try a plant-based diet two things typically go through their heads:
I can’t eat eggs, cheese, meat & dairy + what do I actually get to eat?
Although those statements are true, it’s often easy to forget about ALL the other food you CAN eat! The exciting thing about going plant-based is that you have ENDLESS fruits, vegetables, grains, and more to eat.
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One of the most wonderful things about eating plant-based is that it will open your eyes to foods that you probably had no idea even existed! Quinoa. Tahini. Cocoa Nibs.
But what really IS a plant-based diet? What do you eat or not eat?
Let’s break it down.
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What is a plant-based diet
There are so many different definitions of a plant-based diet so I am going to tell you what I personally mean when I say plant-based.
In our eyes and with the education I have, a plant-based diet is derived from a Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) diet meaning eating whole plant foods, limited processed foods, and no animal products.
To make it easy to understand, you will likely notice that I call the way we eat “Plant-Based Vegan”.
And without getting to into it, I want to let you know that a vegan lifestyle is something that does not necessarily go hand in hand with a plant-based diet. I don’t want to get into it in here but I do recognize that there is more to being vegan than what you eat.
Here are the basics of a plant-based diet
If you have decided to follow a plant-based diet like I have described above, you will want to focus on eating the following foods in abundance:
- Non-starchy Vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, asparagus, etc
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, beans, lentils, peas, corn, squash, etc.
- Fruits: fresh or frozen fruits – try to limit dried fruits and juices but those are okay in moderation.
- Whole Grains: 100% whole wheat, oats, brown rice, etc.
You will limit or eliminate the intake of:
- Processed foods
- Animal products
If you choose to follow a lifestyle like ours, we eat NO animal products, limited processed foods, and as many fruits, vegetables, grains, etc, as we want!
When choosing to eat a plant-based diet, the most important thing in my mind is that you find ENJOYMENT and EXCITEMENT about eating this way.
They are delicious, life giving, and HEALING. Find ones you love and indulge in them. The idea is it get yourself in a head space that says “Wow, these foods CAN and DO satisfy me.”
And guess what — These foods can be done in the ways of soups, stews, casseroles, “cheeses”, “meats”, and SO much more. The skies the limit with this.
HOW TO START FOLLOWING A PLANT-BASED DIET
1. Learn about the lifestyle
One of my favorite tools especially when getting started was Forks Over Knives and NutritionFacts.org. Both have science backing up their information and also provided recipes, tips, and more to help you get started!
A few blogs that dive into plant-based nutrition (and vegan food) is Pick Up Limes and Simply Quinoa. I talk more about my favorite plant-based blogs here.
RELATED: 5 Plant-Based Bloggers You Should Follow
2. Join a community
We have a great free community on Facebook that invites you to share your experience and journey towards eating more plant-based foods. It’s a judgement free zone and we would LOVE to have you!
There are also a variety of online communities depending on where you live and what you are looking for.
If you want video support, YouTube has TONS of amazing videos but be careful because there is also false information and content around this topic just created for drama. 🙂
RELATED: Growing Families Fueled By Greens (Facebook Group)
3. Keep learning
I find that the most enjoyable way to live is to know WHY and HOW about the things we are choosing to consume. What many people don’t realize is that the foods we are feeding ourselves are very often the ones doing the physical damage. It’s not always genetics or luck. We have more control than we think!
When we started this journey, I decided to continue my education through a Plant-Based Nutrition course which I am now certified in. I talk about my experience with that course here.
What I love is that this journey requires us to keep reading, watching videos, and learning about different vitamins, minerals, foods, benefits, etc.
Here are a few books and podcasts we like and you might too:
4. Talk to Someone
There are TONS of amazing and encouraging nutrition coaches out there. Find someone who speaks to you.
Someone who you can relate to and who you feel aligned with. Having a mentor, coach, friend, etc, to go through this journey with you will make all the difference!
And don’t forget to consult your doctor before making an huge diet changes especially if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, have any medical diagnosis.
RELATED: Find a Plant-Based Doctor Near You
I wish you the best of luck as you embrace this new way of living.
Share in the comments if you are currently plant-based or if you want to become plant-based and why! I can’t wait to hear your stories.
MORE FROM REALISTIC PLANT-BASED MAMA:
How to Feel Full on a Plant-Based Diet